Friday, November 13, 2009


LONDON BOXING CLUB - Victoria, BC, Canada

A rich history of amateur boxing and other sports, The two key events in the Sixties and 1976
were the 1964 Vancouver Island Championships and the 1976
English Schoolboy Boxers and
BC Boxing's Junior Selects. During the 1976 Tournament, London Boxing Club coaches
Mike Caird and Brian Zelley and Vancouver Island Boxing Commissioner Howard Curling
received special certificates from the British Columbia Amateur Boxing Association.

However, the London Boxing Club contributed much more to the sport than two key tournaments,
it would be the site of many club shows in the Sixties through the efforts of coach Harry Morris
and other key folks like Stan Richardson, Bill Selfridge and fans like the Alexander family that
had two sons engage in boxing shows including Lacrosse sensation Kevin Alexander and older brother
Ken Alexander who would compete in the 1967 B.C Golden Gloves. Also two former BC Olympic
boxers FRED DESROSIERS and DICK FINDLAY would engage in club shows. Also, after the London Club
folded and replaced by the Victoria Athletic Association the new organization would be the host club
of 2000 Canadian Olympic Boxer DONNY ORR Jr. and the 1976 Tournament would also see 1984
Canadian bronze medal winner in the LA Olympics, DALE WALTERS engage in action as one of
the BC Junior Selects.


NANAIMO BOXING CLUB - The beginning of a long journey

Looking back at an old Golden Gloves program, former President of the
his examination of his boxing archives he came across the list of the 1972 clubs
which included the Nanaimo Boxing Club with the following names mentioned
John Ormandy, Les Varro, Dan Wright and Brian Zelley.

Of course, no Golden Gloves program can tell the story of a boxing club
and it's beginnings. Some say, after George Nepper folded the Newcastle
Boxing Club in 1968, that boxing wouldn't return, but they would be wrong.
However, for three years the old boxing equipment was gathering dust in
the basement of George Nepper's home. It would stay that way for three years.

However, a series of events that began in the library of the Nanaimo District
Secondary School (NDSS) and a discussion by two strangers in 1967 would
result in the formation of the Nanaimo Boxing Club in 1971 by Zelley & Wright.

Funny thing, I was attending Grade 13 in Nanaimo during 1966/67 and
was still boxing for the Newcastle Boxing Club and had recently competed
in the 1967 BC Diamond Belt Tournament,but would soon be on my way to
Vancouver to train with some club in Vancouver before going to UBC in
September 1968. I had previously visited the Hastings CC Club of
Pat O'Reilly in January 1966 and sparred with one boxer that was preparing
for Golden Gloves activity in Washington State. Then again, I had fought against
two of the best Firefighters boxers including Canadian champion Jimmy MacMillan
and Golden Glover Del Deugau, and fought on Victoria and Port Alberni cards
with Dick Findlay, Dave Wylie, Steve Tohill, Kalman Santosi and other Firefighters
so picked that club for the opportunity for more club shows and tournament.
Also, Fred Fuller and Frankie Scott would also join the Firefighters so the choice was clear.

Dan Wright, was a football player and a school wrestler, but his father was a former
middleweight boxer. So that day in the library of NDSS when the stranger approached
me to ask me what I thought of USA boxer Buster Mathis would provide a spark that would be
ignited in late 1968 or early 1969 at some hamburger joint in Vancouver when I happened to
see the stranger Dan Wright and Ray Ormandy. Aside from the burgers and soft drinks and the
small talk, I invited Dan "the Wrestler" Wright and Ray "The Rugby Player" Ormandy to train at
at the Firefighters Boxing Club. But, it would still take a couple of years before the moon,
the stars and the boxing planets were lined-up to start the boxing club.

Much of the discussion and planning for a potential boxing club took place in the summer of
1970 at the home of the Rugby players"cousin John Ormandy in Nanaimo. But, with all my
Commerce courses in such things as Marketing and my previous boxing write-ups for
amateur boxing and the odd letters in the various boxing magazines an important part
of long-term success would require contacts on the local level, on the Provincial level
and to work-up a positive relationship with the news media with the critical point
being the local daily the "Nanaimo Daily Free Press" and to renew old connections to
the "Nanaimo Times". When that paper first began about 1960, I was a carrier in
the Townsite area of Nanaimo, and in 1967 wrote a few pieces about boxing.

Another important issue was the training issues, it was my believe that the most
important issue for the newcomers would have to be sound technical skills learned
slowly and not rushed - including proper stance, footwork, ring movement and
defensive skills.

Two of the young boxers that would be early stars for the Nanaimo Boxing Club
would be DARREN LUSSIER and JACK SNAITH and the rest is history.

* this old piece from 2009
updated with photos
the founders of the
Nanaimo Boxing Club in 1971
Dan Wright - Brian Zelley in 2009

Barry Creswell, boxer and builder


CLUBS - All things must fade away

Some of the old and likely forgotten clubs of 1973:
Chilliwack District Boxing Club - Coquitlam Boxing Club - Creston Boxing Club -
Cumberland Boxing Club - Mount Pleasant Boxing Club - Nelson Boxing Club
Sparta Boxing Club - St. Pats Boxing Club - Trail Boxing Club -
New Westminster Boxing Club.

Some of the coaches connected to these clubs:

Sam Douglas, Bill Young & Fred Smith, Fred Ryckman, Harry Castle,
Terry Cooke & Ken Henderson, Tommy Burns, Bob Sterlie, Steve Tohill,
Leo Chabot, and Harry Twist.

The New Westminster Club would return as the Queensborough Boxing club
with the likes of Frankie Scott

Some may also remember Terry Cooke during his days with the Nort Weast Eagles
or his recent involvement at the Astoria Hotel.

Some may also remember the old Firefighters Boxing Club, in 1972 the
coach was Lindy Lindmoser, previous coaches were Bert Lowes and Pat West.
But, before the Firefighters there was the South Hill club


Not only clubs and coaches but how many remember the efforts of
Gary Wallace, John McCluskey, Bill Cowie, Joe Magri, or boxers Ed
Wainright, Fred Buckle, Ian Hunter, John Dzus and Gary Kuipers.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1973 - Spruce Capital



Photo: Brian's last fight 1973 - Nanaimo, BC


Back in 1973, the head coach for Spruce Capital was Sports Hall of Fame member HAROLD MANN,

At that time Prince George had an excellent cast of star boxers such as

JACK MEDA was no longer involved in competition, but the havyweight division in
British Columbia was lean with the likes of Jim STEVENSON & Dan WRIGHT
in the game along with Neil MELROSE.

Some of the past outstanding Prince George boxers were Laurie RORICK and Buzz MONTOUR.
And who could forget Harold HANDLIN from the Sixties, and a number of others.

Fast forward to 2009 and the head coach is WAYNE SPONAGLE and one of the
outstanding boxers is lightweight MARCUS HUME.

Also in Prince George is the Inner City Boxing Club with coach BOB PEGUES
and boxer KEN LALLY. Pegues began boxing at the Nanaimo Boxing Club
that was started by heavyweight amateur contender DAN WRIGHT and former
boxer from Nanaimo & Vancouver Brian ZELLEY.


The year 1973 was interesting in British Columbia as most of the senior boxers of the Sixties
were gone, and the new young warriors were ready and able to carry the flag forward
to touch gloves in the middle of the ring and be ready to fight under the bright lights.

Some of the top senior boxers in addition to the Spruce Capital Warriors were
boxers from assorted clubs scattered from Cranbrook to Richmond and across
the pond to Vancouver Island and Nanaimo.

Victoria was in a renewal stage, but would soon play a key role in Vancouver Island boxing.

1973 Boxers of note:
Chris Ius, Kelly Sumra, Keith Hunter, Danny Tatton, Gordie Lawson, Shane Hoyt, Willie Benallie

Some of the juniors that will do intresting things, some into the Eighties:
Dale Walters, Barry Blatter, Ed McCaffrey, Darren Lussier, Mike O'Reilly,
Rick Eedy, Joe McCaffrey, Ian Pye, Jack Snaith and David Ius.

One of the last of the notable senior boxers from the Sixties that was still
rocking and rolling in the ring was Steve Tohill, but all stories must end.

Seventies Boxing

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Faces of Boxing


1980 REVIVAL of the BC DIAMOND BELT Amateur Boxing Tournament - Victoria, BC

Following the 1967 and 1968 tournaments, a dozen years would pass until
a revival of the Diamond Belt tournament took place in Victoria in 1980'

Funny thing, in February 1980, in Max Low's article in Victoria's "Times-Colonist"
part of the pre-1980 Diamond Belt hype and publicity focused on 1967 and 1968
Diamond Belt tournaments with the following headline:
"Young boxers eager while vets look back"

It was interesting as to which former BC boxers would get mentioned.
In chronological order of the names, they were:

Brian ZELLEY, Dave WYLIE, Fred FULLER, Frank SCOTT, Wayne BOYCE,
Bill TAYLOR, Brian GRAY, Marijon KOLAR and Melvin HARRIS.

The names of USA boxers mentioned were:
Wesley CRAVEN and Larry HIGH.

Not to be forgotten were names of two Victoria coaches:
Vancouver Island Commissioner RICK BROUGH.



Since before the first BC Golden Gloves tournament in British Columbia - 1939,
and throughout the decades leading-up to the Provincial Boxing Championships
at Kelowna, BC on November 21/22, 2009, there have been hundreds of tournaments
and club show. Some have had a Provincial focus, some had a National focus
and some like the 1954 British Empire Games in Vancouver or the 1994 Commonwealth
Games in Victoria, and then there was the 1967 BC Diamond Belt Amateur Boxing
tournament that was held at the PNE facility in East Vancouver while the out-of-
town folks crashed at a Motel in North Vancouver including the legenday undefeated
heavyweight champion of the world - ROCKY MARCIANO.

There were many participants, and I was one. I (BRIAN ZELLEY) travelled from the Newcastle Boxing Club in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. I was one of four Island boxers, the other
three were from Victoria's London Boxing Club: LES VEGAS - KEN ALEXANDER - BILLY TAYLOR.

Others would come from as far as California, and one of Canada's best from
Montreal - DONATO PADUANO who would compete in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico.

There were many more, but the first two that I met outside the North Vancouver
Motel were two of our fine First Nation's boxers ED WILLIAMS and CHESTER DOUGLAS.